Major champions Minjee Lee, Hannah Green and Karrie Webb are back on home soil this week for the ISPS Handa Australian Open, which will be held concurrently with the men's championship for the first time. But while the history-making events, held in Melbourne on Victoria and Kingston Heath Golf Clubs, will offer equal prize money, they will no longer have the same field size.
Originally, both the men's and women's fields were slated to have 144 players each. The women's field has since been reduced to 108 players and the men's enlarged to 156. The purse for each will be $1,150,000 ($1.7M AUD).
For years, the Australian Open was co-sanctioned by the LPGA and held early in the year. This time, however, the event falls during the LPGA's offseason and during the tour's final stage of qualifying school. The men's event is on the DP World Tour schedule.
"We are fortunate to have solid depth of talent in our women's field for the ISPS Handa Australian Open, with field sizes now adjusted to 108 women and a men's field of 156," Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland said in a statement to Golf Australia magazine.
"Co-sanctioning the event with the LPGA wasn't possible this year due to contractual arrangements in the schedule, and numbers have been significantly impacted by the LPGA Tour school, which was delayed by a hurricane. That has resulted in approximately 120 players not being able to enter the event and has led to a reduction in field size so as to avoid compromising the integrity of the national Open."
Other LPGA players in the field include 2022 major winners Jennifer Kupcho (Chevron) and Ashleigh Buhai (AIG Women's British Open). Marquee players in the men's field include British Open champion Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and New Zealand's top player Ryan Fox.
It's a family affair for several of the biggest names as Minjee Lee will be joined by brother Min Woo in the men's Open field along with Green's fiancé Jarryd Felton.
There will be two cuts for each field. The first will come after 36 holes to top 60 professionals and ties plus amateurs, and the second after 54 holes to top 30 and ties (both pros and amateurs).
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Story originally appeared on GolfWeek